Getting Personal: Richard Medlen

Getting Personal: Richard Medlen

Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today, staff writer Paul Wood chats with 45-year-old Rantoul resident Richard Medlen, a village board member, car dealer, golfer, parade personality and Camaro lover.

You grew up in Rantoul. How has it changed over the years?

The one biggest change was the closing of Chanute Air Force Base in 1993. It is still striving to find its way after 25 years of the base being closed. Positive things are happening, and I believe change is coming, because the people in this town are incredible and anything can be accomplished with us all working together.

What's your best childhood memory?

My best childhood memory would be the first time my dad took me to Wrigley Field. After that, I was hooked lifelong — Cubs fans lived through the pain and misery, but 2016 was a pretty sweet year.

You went to Parkland in criminal justice. Did you want to be a police officer?

Yes, at first I was very interested in becoming a police officer, then I got married to my wife Wednesday Medlen, started working at Better Way Auto Sales and have not regretted a single second of the last 17 years of our marriage.

Tell us about your family. Any funny family stories?

I could tell you hundreds of funny stories, but the one that stands out in my mind is how in my family there seemed to be a desire to always win, no matter what we were playing or doing. My parents have a pool. When we had all the family there, we would stretch a volleyball net across it. One summer, it got so bad agreeing on what was in or out, we taped lines on the inside of the pool for boundaries.

You're very active in government. Tell us about your civic duties and what attracted you to them.

I ran for village board in Rantoul because of my desire to help my hometown. My thought on civic duties is to be available to everyone. The fact is we are all not going to agree on what direction we should take or how we go about it. The key to me is a few things and it seems to be lost in today's government arena. First, admit when you are wrong, apologize and thank those that help point out where you may have missed something. Second be willing to listen — that is lacking in today's environment. Third, be willing to compromise. At the end of the day, your objective is to do what is in the best interest of everyone you represent.

How did you become the Christmas parade Santa?

Honestly, just was asked several years ago, since then have done it every year. I really enjoy doing it to get to see the joy in all the children's eyes, the excitement as they come to meet Santa. It truly is a blessing each and every year.

You're very active at First Baptist Church. How did you become involved?

My wife and I were looking for a church to call home. We visited one day, then started going on a regular basis. After that, I sat on the deacon board for six years, was vice moderator for the church another two years, plus served on the finance board. I have learned a lot over my years at First Baptist. Besides my father, the men there gave me great counsel and advice over the years that I still cherish to this day.

You've been a sales representative and business manager at Better Way Auto Sales for more than 10 years. What is it that you love about cars?

Really don't know if I love anything about cars. They can be very frustrating at times. What I do love about my job is really twofold. First, the people I work with and who I work for. A job is only as fun as you make it, but being supported by a great group of people makes it a little bit easier to come in each and every day. Second is getting the chance to help people from the time they come in the dealership till the time they leave.

What's your favorite car of all time?

A Dodge Viper; sleek, sporty and fast.

What do you drive now?

I drive a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro — silver in color, back to the sleek, sporty and fast, but a tad cheaper compared to a Viper.

What's something almost nobody knows about you?

That I cry every time I watch "The Christmas Carol" and Scrooge wakes up after the spirits visit him and he starts to keep his promise about keeping Christmas in his heart year round.

Do you have a guilty pleasure and what is it?

I think if you asked my wife, it would be golf, and she would be right. I love summertime, being outside, like being out on the course — especially when I walk, it is like a couple of hours away from everything.

What book are you reading now? What is your favorite book ever?

I do read the Bible from time to time through the week to help me stay centered. My favorite book would have to be "Sun Tzu, The Art of War."

Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

I want to go back to England. My mother is from there, and I want to visit family that I have not seen in a while.

Tell me about your favorite pet.

Rocky. He was my dog when I was a boy; he was a German shepherd and loyally would follow me everywhere.

What's your favorite sports team?

Huge Chicago Cubs fan.

What would you order for your last meal?

I'm a meat-and-potatoes guy: Big juicy ribeye steak, baked potato with lots of butter.

Who are your favorite musicians and why?

Guns N' Roses. They came out like my junior or senior year in high school. I would love to go to a reunion concert on their tour right now.

What's the happiest memory of your life?

My swearing in on the Rantoul Village Board. My mother brought my dad out, who was at the time battling dementia. He lost that battle on Nov. 13, so this will always be one of my happiest memories.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite? What would you serve?

My wife, Wednesday; my mom, Vivian Medlen; and myself doing Christmas Eve serving baked ham. There are no other people I would want to be with.

Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?

I admire three people the most. First would be Abraham Lincoln. At the time he was president, it was without a doubt the most difficult time in our country's history. He was trying to push across an agenda that was not popular with half the country, but was the right thing to do. Second, John F. Kennedy. I admire him most because he was our youngest president, and at the time a Catholic, which was controversial, so when he took office, his leadership had to be unshakeable. Third, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — he showed us that change can be accomplished through peaceful protest. His sermons and speeches are some of the most amazing that I have ever read.

What personality trait do you most hate in other people? Most hate in yourself?

Intolerance. At the end of the day, we are all one people who live, work and play here on Earth. It does not take anything to listen or be a helping hand to somebody; it takes more energy to hate and destroy. Don't know how to label it but really am hard on myself when I make mistakes.

What's your best piece of advice?

Manners maketh man. If you take away common courtesy and simple manners, what are we left with?

What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?

My first job was at Taco Bell. I believe I made $5 an hour.

What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?

To stop going to Parkland and start in the car business. It was an easy decision; I had just got married.

Do you have any regrets in your life? What are they?

My regret right now is that I don't have any more time with my dad. I know he is in a better place, just miss his advice.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

I think in any stressful situation, you need to take your time, assess the complaint and think before you respond.